Comic Con International is one of the largest conventions in the United States. While it’s huge and filled with events, every year it gets bigger with a huge dealer rooms and many different types of panels. Though this convention, if you ask me, is too huge. So I only go there when I know there’s an event I can not miss, like any Ninja Turtle event. For the fourth time, I’ve traveled out to San Diego California for the cattle herding event, as I knew Nickelodeon was going to do something for the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series coming this fall.
Comic Con is one of the most costly conventions to go too. The badge alone is $175. That’s $125 more than I pay for any other convention. I’m not a fan of the price, so I had to make up for it somehow. Comic Con offers one thing that most conventions do not offer, overnight lines for panel rooms. The Campground. This line became my camping spot for 5 nights, as we would get in line with fellow convention goers and hang out for the night. During the day, we would check our stuff into the bag check. This is a way to make the best at being cheap for Comic Con, get to know more people, and be on time for all of the morning events. Though this is not a way to be really rested, there is no comfort.
We got to our campsite Tuesday night and set up camp. This will be our spot until Thursday morning. We made friends with fellow campers who were there for the Twilight panel. They had plenty of good panels in the room for Thursday like Frankenweenie,with Tim Burton, so Miki was planning to stay for the panels in the room. I, on the other hand, knew I was heading off into the convention to do other things.
We did have preview tickets, which meant we could pick up our tickets at the convention center. On our way in to get the tickets, I was stopped by someone for a photo with me. He said he met me before, I asked where and was a bit surprised when his reply was “Your House”. Found out he was one of the cameramen for “Totally Obsessed”. I talked to him a little bit and headed off to get our badges.
When the convention floor finally opened at 6pm, we met up with a fellow Turtle Fan, Tokka. The three of us went in and said hi to Kevin at the Heavy Metal booth, then headed towards the Nickelodeon booth. At this time we got split up, as I was the first one to make it to the Nickelodeon booth. I got in line to try and get some of the TMNT stuff for sale, though to my shock they did not take credit! They were also already out of the Leonardo toy for the day! I only had $20 cash on me and could not get a hold of Miki. The thing I ended up wanting was a t-shirt. Tokka showed up and loaned me the $5 to get the shirt I wanted. A cool grey shirt they called the IDW shirt, though it reminded me more of Mirage style. On the back it says Comic Con 2012.
After that, Tokka and I got split up again as I was trying to find out about some people that I was suppose to be meeting up with at Comic Con. Miki and I found each other by texting our locations, she came to me and lead me to the Frankenweenie booth, which had real props and sets from the movie. It was a really neat setup. To go through the booth, you needed to get a ticket, which she already picked up tickets for us. So we went through this amazing set up. These are props that would be so cool to own. I can not wait to see the movie.
Next, Miki and I headed over to the artist alley area to find some of our friends. Though a lot of people were not in for preview night. We did see Varner studios. For those who don’t know what Varner studios is, these are the people who sculpted the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toys. They are back working on the new Nickelodeon TMNT toys. Steve was there and was happy to see us so we got to talk there. After talking there, we wandered around more until it was time to be kicked out.
Going back to the campground was a mess! There were all these people all over the place, excited, with cameras flashing. It was hard to get through the crowd to head to our spot in line. Everyone was standing along the ropes leaning over with posters in hand. The cast of Twilight was going through the line, signing these posters that were passed out. I got a poster and joined the crowd, while I’m not a Twilight fan, I will do this to help any fan out there. I got my poster signed up, though this was one of the interesting parts of the day for me as the creator of Twilight, Stephenie Meyer, came by and signed my poster. She got excited about my TMNT gear and told me how she grew up a fan, with her brother. I gave her the Cowabunga Corner card. When things calmed down it was time for bed.
I woke up bright and early, and we got everything charged then packed up. I said goodbye to Miki for the day, and went off to find the “Turtles vs. Foot” truck to get my hands on a TMNT hat. I got there around 7am, then realized I get to sit until 10am when the hats were going to be given out. So I sat down and had breakfast there. Lucky for me around 9am, they gave me the hat so I could go get into the convention. I went straight to the Nickelodeon booth and got in line. This time there were other TMNT fans around me that I knew. Though standing next to me were two ladies that were talking with me. I mainly talked with the two of them, they were nice. One gave me some packs of gum.
Once I got up to the front of the line I saw them about to throw away a big box that had the TMNT logo on it, I asked if I could have the box. They gave it to me. It says San Diego on it, as the box is for those Leo toys from Playmates. Once I got up to the register, I got another copy of that shirt I like, the Leo toy and the TMNT Skateboard. Though my credit card was declined, I ended up having to run off and use an ATM, which is the same card, and get the cash out needed. I went back and paid for my items in cash. Next I ran off and bought Miki the Frankenweenie toy. Though as it was the days before, Hasbro was too crowded. I could not get in, but I wanted to pick up some toys for friends back in Michigan. No luck.
One of the things that made Thursday different from the other days is that I was walking around with Krang on my shoulder. My dad just made this Krang for me back in May. I was stopped for photos through the day with the I had Krang on. I was around Tokka on and off, as he’d help me carry some of my stuff when he was around. Though we split up when I had a panel I wanted to go to. I wanted to see the Dexter panel, once I got there, there were still two panels before Dexter. So I sat through the new “Beauty and the Beast” and “Elementary” panels. Miki showed up during the Elementary panel. And we both got to enjoy the Dexter panel. After the panel the convention was over and we went outside, finding a spot at the campground for the night.
Friday was the big day for me with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle panel being that morning. This was the only day when Miki came with me into the convention. We got up to the line early, and sat down with a handful of people in front of us, including Roseangelo. Many other TMNT fans started to show and talk with us here, including the people running the Turtle Power Documentary. People from Playmate Toys, Nickelodeon, and more were coming through this area. The worse part here is where I have my problem with Comic Con.
It’s not even 9am, the crowd walking around this area of the convention is small, the halls are mostly empty besides for those of us in line. They got a tape line on the ground, that we have to sit in for the line. Though with no crowd, it should not be a big deal if people stand around talking outside of that taped area. But anytime people came up to talk at us, security was right at them. If I moved just a little over the line while going through my stuff, they would come and get after me that I have to be in the taped area. Even guests of the event were treated this way by Comic Con. This is why I call it the cattle herding convention. There’s no reason for this. I would understand if the halls were crowded or even just starting to get crowded. But this started up when the place was dead. And this is why Comic Con International will never be my favorite convention, they don’t have heart. They are like programmed that these are the rules and even if they don’t make sense at the time, they’re going to enforce them. If the security was like - while it’s slow this is ok, but once things pick up please move on - that would be different and I would respect the event more as a whole. Even the people next to me in line who did not know me, agreed that this was just too much.
Once in the panel room we got front row. Other Turtle fans I know by name that was in the front row was Stephan Reese with Go Green Machine, Roseangelo with Ninja Pizza, and Tokka who’s on Go Green Machine, Mikey’s TMNT Forum and the Technodrome Forum. It was great to see so many Turtle fans there. The room was full. This was the same room they had the TMNT 2009 Panel in. I will do a more detailed review of the TMNT panel on it’s own, along with video and photos.
After the TMNT panel, I went straight to the Nickelodeon booth for the autograph session where I met up with a few people. I was on a very one track mind when I got down there on finding out how the autograph line was going to work. By this point I was starting to be burnt out by this convention and it was only Friday. Once I figured things out, I went around and said more of a hi to the people there that knew me. When the line moved I went through and realized they were only signing these posters that Nickelodeon provided. Disappointed, because I did have my own items, I did ask Nickelodeon workers if they signed personal items and no one seemed to know. So I was standing there with stuff in my arms that have remained in my backpack.
Once up to the table, I got to say hi to each of them. I even got to inform Rob about my surgery. Really this was a good time for me, though a brief chance to say hi to everyone, still a memory worth keeping. The biggest surprise for me was when Hoon Lee knew of Cowabunga Corner. After the autograph line, I wandered the convention a bit. Miki and I even took a break at Starbucks to try and get some food in us. I needed a hot drink for my throat as my voice was getting worse and worse.
With some free time we decided to go and say hi to friends. So I went and found Ernie Reyes Jr’s booth. He has a new comic book that he is doing with Jim Lawson! The comic is called “Sonny Dragon”. I will be doing a full review of this comic. We talked with Ernie for a little bit catching up with him since it’s been awhile since we last saw him.
After talking with Ernie, we went up to the IDW Panel. They talked a little about TMNT, it was disappointing to hear that Dan Duncan was not going to be the artist after issue 12 of the series. He does such a great job. From there, we went down and walked the floor seeing parts of the convention we missed before. We even made it over to the Indiana Jones set up that had real snakes, our friend Monica told us about this one so we made sure to get over and see it. It was nice to get a chance to look around the convention more and talk to other friends that go to this event.
Next was the great Frankenweenie search began. People were having little bags with Frankenweenie on them and we wanted to find out where it was. This search lead us outside, where we found the electric garden. Inside there was all these deadly plants, then a graveyard with pet names, where the big tombstones were showing the Frankenweenie movie trailer. At the end you got a pin and a chance to have your picture taken in front of a green screen, where you’d get a picture of yourself with Frankenweenie. This was a fun step away from the convention center.
We went back to the convention center, and talked a little more with Monica and said hi to Steve Varner, before going off to find a mystery floor, the middle floor of the convention. A friend of ours was at a table there and needed Miki to come and pick something up. So we searched until we found this hidden area, then sat down to relax a little up there. While there, Tokka sent me a text saying he was at the Heavy Metal panel. So Miki and I gathered our stuff and headed there.
We stayed around for the Heavy Metal panel, and after that stood out in the hall talking with Tokka another one of his friends for awhile. We headed outside and went for a walk down through San Diego. We got back to our campsite much later than normal and did not have the comfort of the area where we would normally sleep.
Saturday was more about exploring the convention in the morning. I wanted to try and get into Hasbro to get a pony toy for my friends. I went over there, looking at the mess of people around the booth. I asked how to get a ticket to buy from there and was sent all the way upstairs. I ran up there and they looked at me. “You don’t need a ticket since you’re handicap”, I was sent upstairs for nothing. I went back down and got into line. Even the handicap line wrapped around the booth. Once I got up near the ticket area, I saw their note on the pony toy I was after ‘Sound out for the weekend’. So now even knowing about the Handicap line, it was pointless for me to return so I went wandering the convention.
Since I did not get to charge any of my stuff at where Miki and I were sleeping the night before, I went to the hidden middle floor and found an outlet and sat there charging my stuff. After getting a little bit of a charge to my phone and computer, I went off checking out more of the convention. I got tickets for a movie that night, for a small group of friends and passed the tickets out. The only person I could not give the ticket to was Miki.
I got to meet up with one of my good friends, Buslady. Earlier in the day, I stayed in line with her for her stuff at the Nickelodeon booth and then we would meet up on and off through the day. At one point we met up down near the back of Hall B1, there was a sitting area near the snack food. Tokka lost his badge so I agreed to watch his stuff as he ran off to do something about it. I got to visit with Buslady for a little before she ran off. I met one of Tokka’s friends at this area.
Once Tokka came back, we headed upstairs to the profile review area. Tokka’s friend was up there and sat with us as Tokka introduced me to one of the talents that was doing reviews in this area. After that I went off to get ready for the movie. Though when I texted Miki, she wanted to wait until after the Ironman 3 panel. This became a challenge as I did not realize that panel ended at the same as our movie started. I did a lot more texts with her, and no reply. After having a hard time convincing security to let me into Hall H, I went and let her know we had to go.
We went to the movie, a bunch of other people were already there. We all enjoyed the movie then went to TGI Fridays for some food before heading back for the night.
Sunday, the last day of the convention. I realized once again that I would rather be on the floor saying goodbye to friends than in Hall H. It was our worst night of sleeping as we got back late and ended up sleeping on cement. So sore and tired, I started to wander the floor. Going to see Kevin at the Heavy Metal booth. It was the first time this weekend I got sketches and autographs from him. I went off and one by one stopped by friend’s booths saying my goodbyes. At the Nickelodeon booth I learned they were giving their last posters away at 3:30 so I got into line for that for the Korra and TMNT posters. Miki joined me right before this and was in line with me. Both of us had dieing phones.
After getting our posters Miki and I said our final goodbyes, picked up our stuff and waited for our ride.
Another San Diego Comic Con International came and went, with fun events, cattle herding security, more guests than you could ever get the chance talk to and awesome things to buy. While I enjoy Comic Con, I stand by my words. I’ll go only if there’s an event I must go to, though the convention is too large for me to really enjoy everything that I would want to enjoy. And the security need to learn when they should be on guard and when to relax.
More than likely I’ll be back at Comic Con International next year for any events from Nickelodeon and news on the new TMNT movie.
Did you go to Comic Con International? Please feel free to share your reviews here. Comments and Questions are all welcomed.